There has been surprise from many quarters that I should support the BCCI this week against a proposal from the Indian Sports Minister. But frankly, I can't understand why.
The proposal would have provided for unilateral government intervention into the running of all sports in India - including Indian cricket and the BCCI - via the Right To Information (RTI) act and, in my view was completely unwarranted and unnecessary. So I simply said so.
To recap, the Indian Sports Minister, Ajay Maken submitted a proposal for a Bill that targeted sport in general but clearly had the BCCI firmly in its sights. Thankfully, the proposal was voted out in cabinet and won't be carried forward in its present form.
My opposition was aired in a live TV debate with Mr. Maken on the Times of India TV channel last night. Unsurprisingly, this was interpreted by many as “support for the BCCI from an unlikely source”. The ongoing issues I have with the BCCI about the unfounded allegations they have against me are well documented and I am still fighting to clear my name, so to many it seemed unthinkable that I would lend support to my professional persecutors.
The simple fact is this was a debate about a wider principle of government intervention into sport and not just the BCCI. It was about the future of ALL Indian sport and its overall welfare. It is difficult to separate institutions from individuals, but my issues with the BCCI are about specific individuals not the institution.
I have no issue with some politicians being involved with sport, but I do have concerns when institutions are given a mandate of control, because with that comes accountability. When governments change, blame, not accountability, gets delegated. That is no way to run a competitive and challenging sport. Leave that to the Governing Bodies- elected by and accountable to the stakeholders of the sport.
Let me say quite clearly, there are many examples of a single politician adding value and expertise to sports administrations and in that regard, I have no issue having them involved in their personal capacity. But in my view it is unwarranted to exert a level of overall government control on sports bodies that are already publicly accountable, who present their accounts into the public domain in accordance with the law, and significantly, are under constant media, and therefore public scrutiny. Mr. Maken said that personally, he has no desire to control Indian sport but I would ask what would happen if this Bill had become law and his successor had other ideas at some point in the future?
Sports bodies in India - and across the world - should be run independently and, obviously, with transparency. I have always believed in that and it is why my co-operation with the authorities throughout my own issues with the BCCI have been so absolute. When there is transparency throughout, there is no need for additional constraints or dictatorial process and I am pleased the proposal was defeated.